Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Boob Envy

Yes.  You read that right.  I have boob envy and I have it bad.  J-baby is 2 months old now and he is officially weaned.  And every time I see a friend (or stranger) nurse her baby, I feel a little lump in my throat.  I see women randomly on the street and the thought crosses my mind "I bet she could nurse HER babies".  And then I sigh, just a little inside.  This is the one thing, of all of the things I prayed for, that did not happen for me.   Not that you need to know all of this, but it's therapeutic to write it all out.  I was unable to nurse my Cora girl when she was born.  I was told I needed to pump more, that her latch was bad, that I wasn't relaxing enough to get a letdown for the pump, that she was too weak to nurse since she was a preemie.  On and on. I tried every technique, every herb I knew of, every drug.  I sacrificed sleep and pumped around the clock.  I had the lactation consultants on speed dial.  I literally drove myself insane.  And it didn't work.  Nothing worked. I had to be medicated for Postparum Depression (PPD) after the last drug I went on to promote lactation did nothing for me.  I was broken-hearted and DETERMINED that it would be different this time.

But it wasn't.  I had my full term baby, I had a VBAC (which somewhere in my head I had convinced myself that my C-Section effected my ability to nurse. It doesn't. It didn't.), I was DETERMINED to make it work.  Until I took my little son in for a weight check and he had lost a pound after 5 days.  I called a new lactation consultant and asked her every question and after another night of my little boy frantically trying to nurse for 3 hours and then falling asleep, I saw his behavior for what it truly was.  He was exhausted, not satisfied.  I took a bottle of formula in hand and I fed my son.  He gulped down every drop, burped contentedly, and then fell asleep, full and happy for the first time in his short little life. I cuddled him and sobbed.  Heart-wrenching sobs and was angry.  Angry at God.  Angry at my body.  Angry and broken.  I didn't understand why I couldn't have this.  I wasn't going to starve my son any more for the sake of my nursing pride, but WHY?!!  Why couldn't I have this one last thing?  And granted, I was 5 days postpartum and a hormonal mess, so this all felt way more intense.

I went to see the lactation consultant (a different one from the ones who I saw with Cora) and long story short, she took one look at me and told me she was surprised I could make any milk at all.  I had an organic problem.  I just don't have the glandular tissue I need.  It's a condition called Breast Hypoplasia and I'll let you google it.  Mine is a mild case and not at all like what I found when I searched for images. Yeep!

I felt such relief at having an answer!! I left her office with every (new) herb she recommended and started on meds (not the crazy making ones this time) to make everything work as much as it could with the full knowledge I would never make a full supply for my son, but I could give him what I had.  And then he got sick and refused to nurse, or eat at all since he couldn't breath and it was all downhill from there.  By the time he got better, I was down to the dregs and he was not happy about having to work so hard for his lunch.  I slowly let it go.

And I am still sad about it.  I can get angry if I think about it too much, since for years I've been seen by medical professionals who never once mentioned that this might be a problem, that there might be an underlying syndrome that I could possibly correct with medicine and weight loss.  And now here we are.  J-baby has donor milk from other mamas and formula and I have a little sigh in my heart when I think about it.  I don't hang out in that place.  I am grateful for the gifts I have been given with beautiful healthy children and for the most part, a healthy body. But there is a little sad part in my little mama heart that longs to feed my baby the way God intended a woman's body to work.  And writing it out helps me let it go a little more.  To find joy in the gifts I have been given and to be thankful for what I have (or don't have).  For at the heart of it is a plan that is bigger than mine.

Friday, March 18, 2011


It's only March, so this warm weather is only a tease.  I know this from 10+ years of Nashville weather.  The moment I put something in the ground before April 15th, fickle Spring hides her face and the frost kills my young plants.  I've learned.  But this delicious breeze!  This warm sun!  This barefoot babies on the playground day!  I've been fooled before and I may get fooled again. 

I haven't been capturing the days on 'film', but just drinking them in, and often sitting, totally overwhelmed while a small one sleeps on my chest and my other (still small in my heart) one runs and plays and attempts things I never thought she'd try.  It's funny how having mama's hands full all the time prompts new independence.  And new sadness.  'I need you Mama' is what she says about 50 (thousand?) times a day to me.  She can't express why she needs me, or what she needs me for, but truthfully, I know she needs me to find time for her when she is the only thing in my arms and not get half hugs while I hold my darling, but still extremely needy son.  I can't help but think of a wise friend's words to me as I stood crying in my dining room.  My heart has expanded to hold both of these darling babies, but my hands have not multiplied.  By default, I cannot hold them both and I feel it.  The return of the sun from waking until nearly sleeping helps me deal with this dilemma much better than the gray and cold days of January when I first brought this bundle home, but still, the longing to give my daughter the time she craves and still spend my days drinking in the smiles and coos of this little boy. 

But the garden calls me.  The snakes are already taking up residence in my irises.  I've been working on getting wee man to lay on a blanket and be OK with that.  Maybe under an umbrella while we prepare the soil for plants.  I set aside the nagging thoughts that my time would be bette spent keeping up with the laundry or vacuuming the hideously dog hair covered rug, or planning or grocery trip or...or...or...or...

Nope.  I ignore the or's and dig in the dirt.  Or at least plan to, even if I haven't begun.  Yet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent and Love

I've given up sugar for Lent and let me tell ya, I am not a happy girl.  I willingly admit I am a junkie and crave sugar all the time.  We don't keep sweets in the house because I will eat them in a day, but give me about 10 minutes and I could rustle something up from the ingredients we have!  I'm not being super hard core and checking every label, but if it tastes sweet, I am not eating it.  (I might have to add ketchup to that list since after 5 days of no sugar, it tastes like tomato syrup to me)  I'm not sure how long the detox period will last, but for now, I'm not through it.  The headaches are the worst.

Couple this with the fact that I am doing some serious praying and reading about love, Christ's love for us, among other types and I've got quite the mix on my hands.  I might have just lost my mind.  Showing love, or being mindful of how loving I am when I am on edge and jonesing for something sweet might just be the stupidest plan I've ever undertaken.  So here I am, day 5 and praying for the strength to walk away from my daughter's animal crackers, and biting back all of the angry and ugly words that want to come spilling out of me in response to denying myself my favorite drug.  Not that anyone is being particularly annoying.  Just me, a detoxing junkie over here. 

But that is the purpose of Lent, for me right now, to deny myself a physical pleasure that I may focus on the sacrifice of Christ.  In that way, in my own very small way, I hope to get a glimpse of His sacrifice.  Not that giving up sugar is like giving up one's life, but maybe I can just touch the edge of the thought, and hold it in my mind, in between diapers and feedings and the never ending demands of a newborn and 2 year old who are on conflicting schedules.  Maybe for long enough to understand Love a little more.  I hope so. 
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